It’s time we elect our Social Media Minister

Embracing the changing times, the politicians of our country have moved forward and chosen a new medium to do what they like to do best – talk! Moving away from the traditional media of press conferences and television statement bytes, the government officials have changed their way of keeping in touch with the masses. Right from young guns like Rahul Gandhi, to the older ones like Narendra Modi, everyone has made it a point to be alive and kicking on various social media websites including Facebook and Twitter. Moving ahead with the new medium, our leaders are now online participants in many areas where their audience is gathering to collect views, news and opinions about everything they want to. Its almost every day now that we hear that our politicians are actively tweeting away their views and opinions, thus adding to the increasing number of country leaders on the world wide web.

Trying to use their “new loudspeaker” to the fullest, many a politicians have not only used the medium for criticising their fellow tech-savvy politic leader, but have also used it effectively in the campaigning for elections. To quote a recent example of the Uttar Pradesh elections a few months back, the various political parties were hell bent in wooing the younger, urban voters of the state. To achieve the same, they ventured into cyberspace and explored many a domains in there. While the Congress party released quite a few YouTube videos, emphasizing on the party’s stand in the nation, and promoting rallies, other parties like the BSP also ventured into writing blogs, and creating their Facebook pages. Sure enough, their mediums were used to ensure that the members of all the other parties were portrayed as corrupt or deceitful.

Though the parties are trying hard enough to be part of the internet savvy generation, the question of “Are they doing enough” still remains, with the answer definitely being a negative. According to a recent study, political parties in India are far from using the various platforms offered by social media to its full potential. Though they have been able to engage their audiences on social networks with informative content and updates, there is still a lack of strategic depth, long-term commitment and intent to execute diverse engagement programs. Moreover, a clear indicator on how many of those virtually engaged would actually go out and vote, let alone cast their ballot in a party’s favour, is still to be determined.

Keeping the parties aside and going on to the individuals, there are many who have adopted social media to the fullest and spread their messages by their tweets, Facebook updates, and blogs. Rating on the amount of involvement with the social media, here is a list of the top three politicians of India (in no particular order) who are making an effort to embrace the cyber space.

Can they be elected as our Social Media Minister?

1. Rahul Gandhi
Amongst the younger politicians of the country, Rahul Gandhi uses Facebook to be in touch with his followers and fans. With over 160,000 likes on his Facebook Page, Rahul Gandhi uses the Social Networking tool to spread awareness amongst the prospective voters.

2. Narender Modi
Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat has a Facebook page, Twitter account and owns a website. Familiar with the latest technology, gadgets, he uses a high-tech laptop and a palmtop to tweet his messages and updates status in Facebook. He also uses podcast to communicate and a widget to broadcast his news over the internet. Narendra Modi also has a blog which he uses to promote his party and his ventures.

3. Shashi Tharoor
With over a million followers on Twitter, Shashi Tharoor is known for his outrageous statements on the Social Networking website. With an extremely active account, he is one politician from whom the others can learn from. The Member of Parliament has 1,300,794 followers and is very friendly and interactive with them.

According to a survey, India has an estimated 100 million Internet users. Even if 50% of them use social networking websites, the figure comes to something that is too big for any political leader to ignore. Its best that every one of them move forward and join the internet savvy crowd.

Catalyzing a tremendous cultural shift, the social media has proved to be extremely vital in the development of a basic infrastructure of government agencies all over the world, slowly and steadily giving rise to the concept of making the government bodies more and more transparent and communicative. Realizing that, many of our Indian Leaders too have felt the need to be on them. Though, whether they did that for the benefit of the masses, or themselves is a question worth debating. Either which way, I definitely think there is a vacant zone for a new post in the list of government officials – a Social Media Minister. Do you agree?

Featured Image Courtesy Cave Canem

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